Soil is one of the most important non-renewable basic resources on the earth surface. Therefore greater attention has been paid through out the world to study the soils, their distribution and extent, behavior, potentials and problems and their suitability for sustained use for different purposes. Jharkhand state lies between 21o 58’2” to 25o 8’32” North latitude and 83o 19’05”to 87o 55’03” East longitude covering an area of nearly 7.97 m.ha. and accounted for nearly 2.4 per cent of Total Geographical Area (TGA) of the country. It is bounded on the east by West Bengal, on the west by Chhattisgarh, on the north by Bihar and on the south by Orissa. Soil fertility is an aspect of the soil-plant relationship. Fertility status of the soils is primarily and importantly dependent upon both the macro and micronutrient reserve of that soil. Continued removal of nutrients by crops, with little or no replacement will increase the nutrient stress in plants and ultimately lowers the productivity. The fertility status of the soils mainly depends on the nature of vegetation, climate, topography, texture of soil and decomposition rate of organic matter. Optimum productivity of any cropping systems depends on adequate supply of plant nutrients. GIS is a versatile tool used for integration of soil database and production of a variety of users specific and user-friendly interpretative maps. This further leads to accurately and scientifically interpret and plan some of the aspects like conservation of organic matter, soil reaction (pH) control and fertilization. Three soil orders namely Entisols, Inceptisols and Alfisols were observed in different districts of Jharkhand. Alfisols are the dominant soils covering 54.0 per cent of TGA followed by Inceptisols (24.4%) and Entisols (19.4 %). Vertisol is only present in Pakur district to an extent of 0.6 per cent of TGA of the district.
Red soils are common and found all over the granite and geneissic plateau surface. These soils are mostly observed in a catenary sequence. The soils of upland are usually, shallow to medium depth, reddish in colour, low base exchange capacity, acidic in reaction (5.0 to 5.6) poor in fertility status, well to excessively drained, prone to erosion with low water holding capacity and high permeability. The soils become heavier in texture down the catena and down the profile, colour changes from reddish yellow to yellow and yellowish grey. In lowland (Don soils) soils are grey almost neutral in reaction, high clay content and high fertility status. The upland soils are generally Lithic Haplustalfs, Rhodustalfs and medium sloped soil (Haplustalfs and Typic paleustalfs).
Jharkhand soil in general, are low to very low in available phosphorus and sulphur, medium in available nitrogen & potassium status and deficient in available boron.